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The Tri-Fecta by Tony Roettger

After spending two weeks in British Columbia chasing moose and black bear, then coming home just in time to judge a field trial in New York, followed by a trip to Manitowoc, Wisconsin, to compete in a field trial, the time had come for some local bird hunting over the dogs. The weather had been cold, windy and a bit snowy for mid-October which means the woodcock must have begun the migration. The Minnesota pheasant opener seemed like a good day to chase some woodcock and grouse; apparently the rest of the Minnesota population felt the same for there was a lot of people that seemed to have discovered my "secret" spot. With the added volume of people, I was going to have to be savvier about where the cockers and I hunted.

It was just about noon when we found a small river with some scattered brush and new poplar growth. It was on a logged-off section and was not real thick, but could hold a woodcock or two. And if nothing else, at least I could get a dog stretched from the two-hour drive.

Yasmin leaped from the truck with her signature "snort" then she bounced off my chest - much as a teenager uses a skate board ramp to flip around on. It is her way of saying, "Hey! Pay me some attention." I uncased the 20-gauge Browning Citori and we were ready to go.

We walked only fifty yards into the woodlot when a woodcock cleared the eight-foot high poplar growth. I was not really prepared for this - nor was Yasmin. However, after two shots, I dropped the bird and Yasmin made the retrieve. We walked no more than twenty yards and flushed another that took one shot. The cocker and I walked just twenty more yards when a third woodcock above the short canopy fell with a single shot from the Citori.

My first day of hunting back in my home state of Minnesota lead to three birds in twenty-five minutes, four shells and a cocker that was spot on flushing and recovering a limit of woodcock. What to do next? Grab another cocker, Edge, and find some grouse.

The grouse proved to be a bit harder to find. Edge flushed another ten woodcock, which was great practice for his steadiness, before we found our first grouse. I missed the bird but the flush was a start. Edge and I moved to different locations. Soon we found ourselves in a hot spot for grouse where I shot half a box of shells... with no downed birds. The count included a crossing left to right shot where a tree stunned my swing, a left to right coming into me shot where a tree received most of my load of #6 shot and the rest were just misses.

It was getting late in the day. I wanted to hit a pheasant haunt on the way home. Since Edge had not had a retrieve all day, I felt he deserved one if we could find a rooster. We hit the fields at a hidden pheasant haunt and luckily found that one elusive rooster. Edge got his retrieve. I did not get the tri-fecta. But who can complain when spending a day in the woods and fields with a good spaniel or two that do their job of finding the birds and retrieving what is shot? Not me...

Go enjoy some time in a field with a spaniel today,
Tony Roettger
Roettger Ridge Kennels
Co-Author of Urban Gun Dogs

My next article for the next Spaniel Journal will be the tribulations of educating a southern boy on what grouse and woodcock hunting is about.

Tony Roettger

Tony Roettger, of Minnesota, owns and operates the Roettger Ridge Kennels. He breeds, imports and trains both English Cocker Spaniels and English Springer Spaniels.

Tony and co-author, Chip Schleider, have written Urban Gun Dogs: Training Flushing Dogs for Home and Field. Autographed copies can be puchased from the Spaniel Journal Bookstore.

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